Environment Waikato today formally adopted a level of service and funding policy for Project Watershed.
Project Watershed has been developed over three years in consultation with the community to address soil conservation, flood protection and river management obligations in the greater Waikato – Waipa catchment. The Project was designed to address the Council’s legal obligations, and work with the community to identify what type and level of flood protection, soil conservation and river management services people want. The Project identifies fair, equitable and sustainable Region-wide ways to pay for those services and ensures there is funding for ongoing maintenance and capital of existing and identified new works.
Councillor Neeley, Chairperson of the Operations Committee, said that the adoption of funding policy was a critical factor in ensuring the Council had the capacity to act effectively in events such as the recent floods. “Also, insurance is always at risk for Councils whose assets are not maintained to their design specifications and maintenance is the most significant item in the Project Watershed budgets,” she said.
The Council received about 530 submissions on the Project, some in support, some in opposition and many recognising the need for the work but wanting others to pay. Environment Waikato held hearings in Taupo, Mercer and Hamilton to listen to submitters. The adopted annual budget is $5.5 million. $300,000 was taken out of the annual budget as a result of submissions. A number of submitters requested that the Council delay the Project, which was not accepted. Almost 70 percent of the funds identified in the estimates are required to maintain existing soil conservation and flood protection schemes, and the new works have been identified as necessary in the areas most affected by the work. However, a number of changes were agreed in response to submitters. Changes include:
The submissions supported the retention of Liaison Subcommittees to advise Council. Council agrees that Liaison Subcommittees have played an influential and helpful role in developing the Project and will consider the reappointment process at the July Council meeting.
A Special Order process to strike a Project Watershed rate is now underway and written representations can be made until the day before the rate is struck, which is on July 25.
For more information contact:
Ph (07) 856 7184